The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to start its election campaign in Gujarat, with its national president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the state this month. The Assembly elections are likely to be held in December this year.

Newly appointed election in-charge, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, was supposed to visit Ahmedabad on Sunday, 3 September. However, his visit has been postponed in view of his engagements due to the Cabinet reshuffle, which will take place on the same day.

Amit Shah held a high level strategy session at his residence here this week, with election in-charges announced recently. It was also attended by state party president Jitubhai Vaghani and party in-charge for Gujarat, Bhupendra Yadav.

Shah, as per the schedule finalised by the party, will address a Town Hall meeting from Gandhinagar on 10 September and also interact with party workers at 100 locations through video conferencing.

There are 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly. Amit Shah has already made it clear that the elections would be contested under the leadership of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 116 seats. Shah, sources said, told the leaders that the BJP won 116 seats when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister. Now that he is the Prime Minister, the party must strive to win 150 seats, he reportedly said.

“The Prime Minister will take part in the Narmada Arti on 17 September, which incidentally is PM Modi’s birthday too. This will be the culmination of the Narmada Yatra from 6 to 15 September,” Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya told this newspaper. Subsequently, he will also address a public meeting at Dabhoi.

The Prime Minister is also likely to take part in the ground breaking ceremony of the high speed rail network between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, at the Sabarmati railway station.

A slogan, “Garje che Gujarat” or “Gujarat Roars” is in the process of being finalised. Pandya said that a target of 150 seats has been set for the party for the Assembly elections.

Asked to comment on the recent survey by a news channel, giving sweeping victory to the BJP, Pandya said: “We have been optimistic about our victory even before the survey. The Congress is disintegrated. More than a dozen Congress MLAs are Congress-mukt (free from the Congress). We are strong organisationally. We have more than one crore primary members all over the state. We are hopeful that the BJP would come back to power once again in the state.”

The party has appointed Jaitley as the election in-charge of Gujarat along with Narendra Singh Tomar, Nirmala Sitharaman, Jitendre Singh and P.P. Chaudhary.

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